Why We Need the Healing Power of Hands-On Assists

Ayami Yamamichi
Why We Need the Healing Power of Hands-On Assists

I love that moment in class when I am in a posture and the teacher comes over to give me a little hands-on support and my body reaches an even deeper state of awareness.


As a teacher, I love the art of giving assists because it creates immediate connection with students. When I cue from watching a live body move in front of my eyes--versus a pre-rehearsed set of words from my anatomy book--I can trust that my words are relevant to this moment.


A Healing, Instructive Touch

Studies show that platonic human touch speaks to our brain and releases oxytocin. Oxytocin is a feel-good hormone that plays a major role in lowering stress levels, blood pressure, and social anxiety. Human touch is incredibly healing. I want students to know that when teachers give hands on assists, it stems from a place of love, and that physiologically it has healing properties as well.

I never underestimate that one simple touch is sometimes more powerful than the most “perfect” cue. ~Ayami Bassett

We all learn in different ways--seeing, listening, doing--so our yoga practice is no different in that we take away valuable learning from hands-on assists.

Hands-on assisting offers another pathway to mindfulness: It bridges the gap between being caught up in mind chatter and immediate body awareness.

If my hands could talk, they would say this:

Dear Student,

When I place my hands on your body, I help bring you to a deeper level of awareness and in turn benefit everyone else in the room.

I am not judging you, because you are beautiful--even in a twisted posture with sweat dripping into your eyes and you squinting toward the ceiling. I think you are beautiful.

You help me ground as a teacher too. I want to make sure you leave my class feeling seen, heard, understood. Sometimes the best way for me to do that is to walk over to you and be completely present to the way your body moves, because it’s different than mine or anyone else’s.

I want to remind you that you are perfect just as you are. I am here to support you, not fix you.

I want to help deepen your practice from a place of alignment that fits your body, not what appears in magazines or photos.

And lastly, postural stuff aside, I want you to know that you are deserving of love, not just from me but also from everyone in your life.